Let It All In, the debut album from indie folk band Heatmaps surfaces in the midst of winter and contains several lyrical references to snow, frozen lakes and the cold month of February. But musically, the songs that comprise this stunning release feel like nine warm, beaming rays of sunshine and hope. "Who is(are) Heatmaps?" you might ask. I first heard about the band in a recent Instagram post from Seattle-based indie band Silver Torches (a band that you might have read about here on SoundThread Music Blog). I took one listen to Heatmaps' most recent single, "Landline", and I was hooked.
Heatmaps is the solo music project of Seattle-raised, Los Angeles-based producer, engineer, and songwriter Steven James Aguilar. The collective features some of Steven's favorite musicians: James McAlister (Sufjan Stevens, The National), Yuuki Matthews (The Shins, Sufjan Stevens), Michael Lerner (Telekinesis), Erik Walters (Silver Torches), Jeff Pianki, Denison Witmer, and Rosie Thomas.
Steven has come up assisting producers like Steve Lillywhite and Blake Wescott, has produced critically-acclaimed albums including The Head and The Heart's self-titled 2011 album (which went gold last year) and Silver Torches' Heatherfield. In addition, he has engineered on records for David Bazan, Damien Jurado, Rosie Thomas, and Dave Matthews Band among others.
Let It All In is one of those albums where you wish there was more to hear - I've changed my Spotify play setting to "repeat" to hear it more than just once.
The opening track ("Beth") is simple, straightforward and gorgeous acoustic folk - with soft, close vocal harmonies that are reminiscent of those in America's "Horse With No Name" - a perfect start to Let It All In. The spacious acoustic atmosphere of "Landline" gracefully and optimistically takes off with its stunning chorus: "I don't know what I'm missing | one eye closed | double vision." Keeping with the winter theme, "Dark Miles of Snow" picks up the pace, followed by "Lost Lake" with its upbeat, singalong chorus. The introspective, lo-fi "Glowing City" (clocking in at just over one minute) works as a transition to the latter half of the album. "Headlights" is clearly a standout track and potential single material. "Somebody Said" is one of my favorites, with its upbeat vibe, infectious melody and production. The reflective, downtempo "Strangers" transitions us to acoustic closing track "Okanogan" (presumably about the Okanogan country of British Columbia and Northwest Washington state).
Heatmaps has just released an accompanying music video for their single "Beth." With opening visuals that play on the song's "stealing oranges" lyric, this short, scenic and cinematic video, directed by Christopher Harrell and Genevieve Pierson, is definitely worth a watch.
HEATMAPS "BETH" (Official Music Video)
For more information about Heatmaps, visit the band's official website, follow on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube) and find their music on Spotify, Bandcamp and SoundCloud.